Sobinov, Leonid

Leonid Sobinov was born in Yaroslavl on June 7, 1872 in the family of a tradesman Vitaly Vasilyevich Sobinov.
Leonid did very well academically. Interest in music was satisfied by playing the guitar and singing in local choir. After finishing school, he enrolled in Moscow on the course leading to the degree in law of Imperial Moscow University. He graduated from the course in 1894, but by this time, he made considerable experience in the student choir. This practice included some appearances as its soloist. After University came military service, compulsory at that time in Russia, and then he began to practice law. He took singing lessons from Alexandra Santagano-Gorchakova and she insisted that he participate in a casting session at the Bolshoi Theatre. In 1897, Sobinov signed a two-year contract. Before long, the singer earned the admiration of the public with his breath control, mezza-voce and enunciation. He sang in the operas – “Ruslan and Lyudmila” by Mikhail Glinka, “Faust” by Charles Gounod, “Manon Lescaut” by Giacomo Puccini, “Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin, “Eugene Onegin” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, “Halka” by Stanisław Moniuszko, “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi, Tannhäuser by Walther von der Vogelweide. Sobinov performed 35 roles and walked out on the stage 623 times while his operatic service in the Bolsoi Theater. The reigning star at the Bolshoi was Nikolai Figner hence Sobinov was his equal in every way.

In the fall of 1899, Sobinov finished his law practice and devoted himself entirely to music. Sobinov said about himself: "The best singer among lawyers or the best lawyer among singers". At the end of 1903, he sang aria of Nadir in “Les Pêcheurs des Perles” together with great Antonina Nezhdanova. He also performed at the Milan Teatro alla Scala (1904-1906), where he sang traditional Italian repertoire, performed in Monte Carlo, Madrid, London, Berlin, Paris, and traveled a lot across Russia. During the First World War, through concert tours, he made generous charitable donations. In 1912, he once more appeared at la Scala Theater opposite Lucrezia Bori in the opera “Romeo et Juliette”, conducted by Tullio Serafin. Few months before the outbreak of World war I, Sobinov appeared in a new role - Mario Cavaradossi in the opera “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini.

After the Great October revolution, Sobinov was headed the administrative cultural post in Sevastopol. His last concert performance was in 1921. The same year he was appointed the Bolshoi Theater director, hence after a view months he resigned to return to operatic and concert activity. He died from a heart attack in 1934. He was awarded with many titles – the Imperial Court Singer (1910), People’s Artist of the Union of Soviet Union (1923),) and Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1933).